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10 Things the HR Department Won’t Tell You

Things are tough all over. With unemployment hanging around 9.6%, you need every advantage you can get to keep the job you have or to get a new one.  In a recent issue of Woman’s Day magazine Kimberly Fusaro lays out the 10 Things the HR Department Won’t Tell You . The list includes things like how background checks have become more stringent for new job applicants all the way to something as simple as your personal hygiene (i.e. if you want to get and keep the  job, don’t stink up the room).

Leaders today demand so much out of their workers, in many cases they demand that employees do 2,3 or even 4 jobs at the same time. So leaders need to make sure those they are hiring can handle the pressure and get the job done. Some of the items on this list aren’t very PC and in fact a couple of them seem downright illegal. But no matter where they fall on the morality/legality scale, they appear to be facts of life, and most of us in the business world need to be aware of them in order to stay head of the game.

I don’t work in HR, I don’t know a lot of people who do. If you do work in the wonderful world of HR, drop us a line and let us know if these rules deserve a key to the executive washroom or if they should get a pink slip.

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Diagnosing Internal Malaise

The recent airing of General McChrystal’s grievances of the Obama administration’s handling of the war in Afghanistan through a public outlet has raised a series of important dilemmas for individuals hoping to enact reform within their organizations. How should I go about drawing attention to problems within my business?

One on hand keeping the matter “in the family” can spare higher ups having to deal with potentially embarrassing inquires and audits which will also undoubtedly keep you in your bosses’ good graces.  However, without any external pressure there exists the likelihood that your ideas will falter, as a powerful motivation of change has dissipated. Conversely, you can choose to go public with your misgivings, increasing the probability that change will occur, albeit with the added price of media scrutiny and a sure trip to the unemployment insurance rolls. Usually, I think many would agree that informing principals of your qualms and deploying political competence to see these change through is the optimal solution. However, if the situation merits urgent attention your best option may be to blow things up and take the requisite lumps that will come. One such situation emerged in the years preceding the full outbreak of World War II.   

Throughout history, art has undeniably been linked to propagandistic motives. Picasso’s Geurnica was painted after the tragic bombing of Guernica by Nazi bombers in the hope of drawing international attention to the tragedies of the Spanish countryside. Painted in 1937, Pablo Picasso masterfully conveys the suffering of the Basque people and the tragedy of war. In choosing such a public forum, one of Spain’s artistic lights was able to draw international attention the suffering of his people.

Picasso used light and dark shadows and images to amplify the atrocity of these heinous acts. In order to maximize international attention, he highlights victims by using representations of light and dark along with a linear composition to emphasize the inhumanity and terror caused by the Franco regime. 

Unfortunately, in some cases perverse incentives (typically delayed promotion, being labeled as a snitch, or even fear of termination) keep employees unwilling to collaborate with employers. Non-hierarchical workplaces can temper some of these anxieties and help keep tensions at a minimum. Occasionally, problems need to be addressed in larger forums, which should be used to gauge general concerns and begin to build a consensus towards finding acceptable solutions. Picasso’s painting served this purpose, a large-scale mural, which directed the conversation.

Every organization faces two competing demands: it must execute its current activities and adapt those same activities to face future opportunities and challenges. Organizations hoping to maintain a competitive edge must be able to accurately diagnosis internal malaise.

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SATs & Global Change: The Power of Vision

My room was dark and cold as I contemplated whether the chill I felt was through the lack of heating or the cloud of fear floating over me. I pondered on the darkness being a result of the lights going out or simply the confusion and uncertainty that plagued me. For the third day that week, the electricity had been interrupted. With inflation over one thousand percent and unemployment rising to over seventy percent, my beloved country Zimbabwe, was now a sea of corruption, broken hopes, and dreams. I looked down at the wax candle and sadly viewed the fading candle as my own personal representation of losing hope of ever achieving my dreams and visions.

I remember this defining point in my life because it was the day I decided that with an eternal flame of hope inside my heart I would take action towards achieving my vision of staring a new life in the USA and attending college. I almost dropped out of high school because I could not bear to see my parents suffer working daily for meager salaries. Although, I had a deep burning desire to go to college, our local University was constantly closed due to political violence. I then took on the responsibility of helping pay the bills at home. Our money never really had any value so anything we earned was always spent on daily expenses. Since childhood, I had clear visions of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do but I almost lost hope and accepted defeat as the situation in my country left me powerless.

Joel Barker writes about how action without vision just passes time. My life at that point felt exactly like that, passing time. Dreaming about moving to the USA and attending college, I would imagine the journey, meeting new people, and the academic heights I would reach. Yet, that is all they were, dreams. That night, watching the candle fade, I kept hearing my mother’s words about how the universe would always provide us with everything. With these words echoing in my mind I made a list of actions that I would take to ensure my path to studying in the USA. I analyzed my situation and immediately changed my way of thinking. Nothing was going to stop me from achieving my vision.

I wrote to my aunt in Dallas and asked her to send me practice books on the SAT and information about colleges in Dallas. I explored my options on making more money by changing jobs and industries, accepting a new challenge of a commission based salary. Initially, it was difficult, but I remained focused on my vision of going to the USA and attending college and worked harder and harder as time progressed. My determination impressed my boss and he promoted me to a sales manager. I actually started making enough money to save up for a plane ticket to the USA. Every night before I went to bed, I would voraciously study my SAT handbook and the universe also noticed my positive actions and I was graced with winning a green card lottery. My SAT score was in the top ten percentile and I had saved enough money to move to USA and finally realize my once forgotten dream.

I truly believe that if you develop a vision and follow it through with action you can change your life, you can change your community, your nation and the world. Leaders such as Gandhi and Mandela had positive and inspiring visions, so well developed, that when followed through with action, they changed the history of the world. Vision with action helped achieve my dreams.

Picture Credit: Pure9